Clandestine Cake Club. My local branch in South Lancashire meets regularly and whilst I don't make every session (less so now that husband works weekday evenings), I try to get to as many sessions as I can.
If you don't know what Clandestine Cake Club is, they are events all over the UK (and the world) that people sign up to and people bake cakes (big ones, not brownies, muffins and cupcakes) to a theme to bring along. The venue is kept secret until the last minute - the clandestine bit - and then you turn up, eat cake and chat with lovely cakey people, over coffee, tea or sometimes something stronger, depending on the venue.
What Clandestine Cake Club does for me is push me out of my baking comfort zone. For years, I continued to make my favourites that I know how to make. Having to bake to a theme has meant I have had to hunt for recipes or design my own and make something different. It's given me more confidence to try something different and it's improved my baking. It's been different and fun at the same time. Oh, and I've got to try some fantastic cakes made by some very talented bakers - and taken some of it home for the family!
There must have been thousands of cakes made for all the different cake club meetings. Now there is a cookbook featuring 120 of the best recipes that members have baked for meetings, written by Lynn Hill, the founder of the Clandestine Cake Club movement. I was kindly sent a copy to review, in advance of its publication today.
The best thing about the book is that I recognised so many names of bloggers I read and tweet with regularly who had all contributed fabulous recipes. Heck, I've even met some of them! Very exciting to know that I know proper published authors in real life. My second favourite thing was the "Cake Wrecks" section with advice on how to rescue your cake disasters - and everyone has them from time to time. The cakes are grouped into eight chapters and there is nothing standard or boring about any of the recipes. They all look fabulous, and range from the incredibly simple to the very involved.
It was an easy cake to make and the recipe was easy to follow, although my icing came out thicker than it looked in the book. Ours was a soft spreading consistency whilst the book clearly shows the final result to be more of a pouring consistency. But it was lovely and despite some turf wars from the children over who had the pieces with the sweets and how many they'd each had, we enjoyed every single mouthful and it was gone in 24 hours. Good job I wasn't making it for a meeting!
I would definitely recommend this book if you enjoy baking cakes. Whether you're a Clandestine Cake Clubber or not, the recipes will add a new dimension to your baking and encourage you to try some things that are just that little bit different, and still taste yummy.